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BBC presenter Nick Robinson demanded to know “what’s the point” of a lockdown now after the previous one proved unable to stamp out the coronavirus. Members of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) have been urging Boris Johnson to consider a new national shut down as cases continue to surge. But while other European countries impose stricter national measures, Mr Robinson challenged WHO Special Envoy David Nabarro to defend the policy against the economic challenges such a move would cause.
The BBC Today host said: “There may be people looking at what’s happening in Europe and saying, look, these lockdowns and, of course, the word means different things in different places, they’re not working.
“But they are hurting. So what is the point?”
Mr Nabarro conceded a lockdown should be a final resort governments can use if the pressure of the virus becomes close to overwhelming the national health system.
He insisted the focus of the international community should remain on developing and maintaining a “robust” test and trace system to ensure those catching COVID-19 are isolated and the spread is reduced.
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The WHO special envoy said: “This lockdown as we are calling it includes very strong restrictions on economic and social lives.
“You try to create space so vital things can go on but it stops everyday stuff from happening. It freezes the virus in place.
“You don’t want to use those as your primary means of containment because, in the end, living with the virus as a constant threat means maintaining the capacity to find people with the disease and isolating them.
“That’s what the test, trace and isolate system is about. Building that up so that it is strong and robust everywhere still has to be the key direction of all European governments, all world governments, with lockdown just as a reserve that you use when things are really bad.”
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